BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Sym­phonies Nos 2 & 5

An­twerp Sym­phony Orches­tra/ Philippe Her­reweghe

Phi LPH 028 60:09 mins

To us, it’s hard to un­der­stand how Schu­bert’s at­trac­tive early sym­phonies can have lan­guished in to­tal ob­scu­rity un­til the en­ter­pris­ing con­duc­tor of the Crys­tal Palace, Au­gust Manns, took them up in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Both sym­phonies recorded here un­usu­ally have their min­uet in a mi­nor key, and in the case of

No. 5 the G mi­nor min­uet clearly shows the young Schu­bert’s love of Mozart’s fa­mous sym­phony

No. 40 in that key. The Fifth is the most fa­mil­iar, as well as the most per­fectly pro­por­tioned, among the youth­ful sym­phonies. No. 2 is more pro­lix, and its open­ing move­ment can seem te­dious when its long first-half re­peat is ob­served, as it is here by Philip Her­reweghe. Its main sub­ject is char­ac­terised by its per­sis­tent off-beat ac­cents, all metic­u­lously no­tated by Schu­bert. Alas, Her­reweghe glosses over them, so that the mu­sic lacks an ele­ment of ex­cite­ment and ur­gency. Nor does Her­reweghe of­fer much the slow move­ment a great deal of help. It’s a set of vari­a­tions of no great in­trin­sic in­ter­est, and it’s per­formed rather rigidly here, with­out the touch of charm the mu­sic needs. Things im­prove in the en­er­getic ac­count of the fi­nale, but by then it’s too late.

The first move­ment of No. 5 is again some­what short on light­ness and el­e­gance, though there’s much to en­joy in the re­main­der of the per­for­mance. How­ever, for grace and pol­ish, as well as su­pe­rior string play­ing, Clau­dio Ab­bado’s record­ings with the Cham­ber Orches­tra of Europe re­main a bench­mark. Misha Donat


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